Whether you are enjoying a relaxing camping trip or fighting for your life in a survival situation, a proper shelter is essential. Improvised shelters, when made correctly, can be just as protective and efficient as high-priced tents from commercial retailers. Useful as a barrier against the elements, wild animals and creepy crawlies, the best homemade tents are simple to transport and are quickly assembled.
Locate a large tree with a wide trunk. If possible, locate a tree near a water source and away from high ground to avoid temperature-sapping winds.
Rake away any debris on the ground, using your feet in side-to-side sweeping motions. Pull out any protruding rocks or sticks and toss them away from your new campsite.
Locate one large rock the size of a watermelon and four smaller rocks the size of cantaloupes. If possible, find rocks with plenty of texture as opposed to those of the smooth-faced variety.
Tie the end of your cordage around the tree trunk approximately six feet above the ground. Place the large rock 10 to 12 feet away from the tree trunk. Tie the free end of your cordage around the large rock, ensuring that the cordage is taut.
Drape your canvas or tarp sheet over the taut cordage, leaving the upper 4 feet of cordage uncovered. Pull the sheet out to the sides and hold it in place with the four cantaloupe-sized rocks.
Find soft tree boughs or pine needles to cover the floor of your improvised tent. A thin, potentially itchy cushion is better than no cushion.
Build a small fire between the shelter opening and the tree. If your fire is too big, it will burn through your cordage and ruin your shelter. The heat from the fire will reflect off the wide tree trunk, making your shelter cosy and warm.
Place small, flat rocks in your fire for several minutes and then transport them under your improvised cushion, thereby providing your homemade tent with a heated bed.